Trucks & Trailers Ltd | In it for the long haul

Trucks & Trailers Ltd | In it for the long haul

It began 31 years ago, with one man repairing heavy trucks from the back of a ute. Today Trucks & Trailers has close to 100 staff and sells hundreds of trucks, vans and utes each year.

The company is the longest-serving agent for Mercedes-Benz and Freightliner Trucks in New Zealand, and its service and repair offering cements it as a leader in the highly competitive truck dealer market.

Don and Judy Wright set up what would become Trucks & Trailers in 1987, while also running a separate transport company.

Today their son, Mark Wright, sits behind the wheel of the Manukau-based firm. Mark worked part-time at the company throughout his schooling and joined it full-time in 2002, after completing his engineering degree. He purchased the business in 2012, with Chris Mackey, who he has since bought out. 

Shortly after Mark bought in, the business doubled in size – partly due to new legislation for truck specifications that gave trucking businesses the confidence to buy, he says. The firm now employs 96 staff across Auckland and in its four other locations, Rotorua, Mount Maunganui, Palmerston North and Wellington.

The market has levelled out, but the business is ticking along nicely, Mark says. While the truck business is bigger, the van and ute side is growing strongly thanks to the introduction of a Mercedes-Benz ute to the market, and Trucks & Trailers building up resources in the division.

Mark says the company’s service and repair workshop is its backbone. “It’s where we started and that’s our core strength – our ability to provide strong after-sales service. I can’t remember the last time we advertised for work.”

He also attributes the firm’s success to its premium brands and wide range of customers and products. “We cover everything. From a guy who picks up beehives, to heavy haulage, and anything in between. No one in our market space can offer the same breadth of product under one roof.”  

The sales process for a truck can take years, an understandable timeframe given they cost on average half a million dollars once the body and trailer – supplied through local partners – are added on.

“We aim to sell a couple of hundred trucks a year and we try and do the same in vans and utes. Our goal is to be moving about 600 vehicles a year by 2020.”

Helping the firm towards that goal are John Teague and Kiran Bhikha, directors at Moore Stephens Markhams Auckland. 

John has been working with Trucks & Trailers from the early days, Mark says. “We have a deep level of trust. He is genuinely interested in us and our business and the success of it. He is always trying to provide advice around where we could potentially make improvements, or he questions our thinking on things.”

John and Kiran have also provided business modelling, so Trucks & Trailers can approach big projects with confidence. “The key thing for us is that this is a relationship. We try to foster a relationship with our customers and understand their pain points, and Moore Stephens Markhams does the same for us.”

The market is fiercely competitive – for customers as well as staff. “There are about 20 different competitors fighting to sell a couple of thousand units a year. From a pure business point of view, it’s madness. But it’s an industry that we love, it’s full of great people and we are passionate about the product. It makes it pretty easy to turn up every day.”